Neue Deutsche Härte is a Music genre that is typically characterized by German lyrics, heavy guitar riffs, static rhythms and often hard electronic elements. The singing is usually at a very low pitch, and often with a hard pronunciation. The topics often revolve around philosophically and psychologically complex social phenomena and issues, several of which are graphic, dark or controversial in nature, but also around emotional angsts, self reflexive topics or lust. The genre name, which translates to “New German Hardness”, is a play on the legendary Neue Deutsche Welle movement (“New German Wave”) of the 80s, in which German language new wave and synth rock became the foremost music in the German language market. HISTORY: The genre first occurred in the early-to-mid-1990s in the German underground and independent music scene, when the techno and rave music that was highly popular in many European countries, was combined with heavy rock aesthetics. Oomph! are often credited for being the first band to have released the first music that resembles the modern idea of Neue Deutsche Härte (combinations of rock and electronica in the German language were present before though). With the release of Rammstein's “Herzeleid” in 1995, the genre first got slight mainstream attention, before creating a hype in 1997, when their sophomore record “Sehnsucht”, which also gathered the group an international fanbase, and national superstardom. Later on, other bands of the musical style managed to gain high commercial success. INITIAL RECEPTION AND CONTROVERSY: In its early days, the genre had to fight with the stereotype of being right wing music due to its stylistic elements. Although the lyrics were politically neutral, the static sound of the music, the often martial choice of words and an affinity to controversial topics including the portrayal of psychologically complex yet disturbed characters, were often seen as aesthetics much valued by the Third Reich. In addition, the sound of Rammstein's singer Till Lindemann's voice, which features unusually strict pronunciation, was found to resemble Hitler's speeches when the group first gained relevance. With the massive commercial breakthrough of the genre in the late 90s and then early 2000s, this stereotype declined, and people looked deeper into the bands' lyrics. The genre became praised for its overly dominant and hard production and strong lyricism from the German music press. The genre has been freed from prejudices since it became a crucial part of Germany's rock music scene. The international reception of Neue Deutsche Härte music has not drawn political associations. Instead, it was often compared to the Industrial music of Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson, which were commercially successful in the USA at the same time. The reception was mostly positive, although much more light hearted and far less analytic than the German reviews. LEGACY: In Germany, Neue Deutsche Härte remained a commercially highly successful genre, with bands such as Rammstein, Eisbrecher and Unheilig having topped the charts in the 90s, 2000s and/or 2010s, in addition to numerous gold and platinum certifications. Retrospectively, Rammstein are often ranked among the greatest German bands of all time, with their albums having reached legendary status and much critical acclaim. The genre is credited in having played a major role in the history of German pop culture and having set what kind of musical aesthetics are acceptable. It is also noteworthy of being an entirely musical movement with no specific target group or visual subculture to go along with it. Neue Deutsche Härte listeners are diverse in age, gender, social backgrounds, clothing style and political views.